Meet the Nieratkos - Nyjah Huston, Free at Last

This Sunday in Newark, New Jersey, Nyjah Huston is hoping to win his fourth straight Rob Dyrdek Street League contest, bringing his winnings to $600,000 for 2011. Why should you care?

Aug 25 2011, 12:00am

Skateboarding is out of control. There is more money in it than ever before, and the contests are getting so cutthroat that some are forcing skaters to sign exclusivity contracts to limit which events they can enter, while others are willing to up their prize money by $1 like the Price Is Right just to say they have the largest prize purse. Now a subculture that was once regarded as drunk, hopped up fucktards is being represented by a handful of guys who do push ups with their toy on their back and train, train, train for their pay day. It’s so serious now that I had one skater bow out of last week’s Red Bull Manny Mania contest that I helped organize, because he said he didn’t want to get hurt for this week’s Street League. (The highest obstacle at the manual contest was MAYBE 18-inches tall.)

I’m not a big fan of skateboard contests in general unless they’re at the Skatepark of Tampa. Something about that place is magical and no matter how hot it gets down there it’s always a good time.

All the big contests (Maloof, X-Games, Street League) have their pros and cons. I generally don’t like the X-Games street course, but this year I thought it was much improved and fun to watch. I like the new Maloof head to head format in the finals, but don’t like that my friend Greg Lutzka won in NYC for doing the same choreographed routine three times in a row. If I see him take that same run in Washington DC I’m going to vomit. Street League is both my favorite and the hardest to watch. The way it’s packaged and presented is like volunteering your time at an old folks home just to see someone die. You know it’s bound to happen, but chances are you’ll fall asleep waiting for it. But Rob Dyrdek, a pro skater, is running things and I like Rob and I like when skaters are at the top of the food chain getting paid what they rightfully deserve, rather than helping a corporation sell millions in merchandise only to be awarded $50,000 in prizes.

This Saturday in Newark, New Jersey, Dyrdek’s circus is coming to town. (My friend Dave Carnie wrote an informative expose on Rob Dyrdek’s Street League for ABD and you can read all about it and how he wants Vegas to start betting on skateboarding HERE.) The real story is how 17-year-old Nyjah Huston is set to win this year’s Street League, along with $150K, for the fourth time in a row. Six hundred thousand dollars might not seem like much to you considering the beating skaters take compared to the money golfers earn for walking in the sun and tapping some balls around. And you’re right—it’s not. But in skateboarding, it’s the most we’ve ever seen. Coming into 2011 Huston, a child star since the age of ten, didn’t have a pot to piss in. He had huge lucrative contracts over the years, but allowed his father to blow every cent he ever had. Former team managers say the guy was such a nightmare that Nyjah was eventually dropped from every sponsor he had so they wouldn’t have to deal with the dad anymore. The stories of his dad’s weed-induced antics are now legendary examples of why stage-moms/dads have no place in skateboarding.

Here’s a best of montage Street League has put together of Nyjah:

It wasn’t until recently that Nyjah’s mom finally separated from Nyjah’s dad and freed herself and her children. And you could see an instant change in Nyjah’s demeanor. Until this year, I don’t think anyone had ever seen the kid smile. He is finally allowed to talk to people and be a kid. He finally got to try ice cream for the first time in his life. Most of this stuff was always insider skate industry talk. Nyjah never went public with his story in an interview, until now. Jaime Owens of Skateboarder magazine asked me to talk to Nyjah and a bunch of other guys for the Newsstand-Only Special Interview Issue (out now). I wasn’t that excited because the last time I interviewed Nyjah he gave me one and two word answers at most. But that was when he still lived with his father. This time around he opened up about everything: the mental abuse, the squandered money, the two video parts being held hostage… everything. It is a very, very sad story and I’m sure it will one day be made into a book and/or film.
I present to you that interview from Skateboarder:

Click image to engorge

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Special thanks to Skateboarder magazine